Major Australian fruit and vegetable supplier Costa Group will use artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to optimise its berry farming operations in multiple states.

Coast Group is deploying The Yield’s Sensing+ solution for eight of its berry farms in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.

The solution combines sensors and analytics to measure growing conditions and predict weather in polytunnels in which the berries grow. “We aim to better understand and manage the specific growing conditions that improve the quantity and quality of our yields,” stated Costa Group CEO Harry Debney in a press release distributed by The Yield.

The system will also use artificial intelligence to predict berry yields. “Accurate yield prediction allows us to optimise our costs and achieve better prices when negotiating with our customers,” Debney stated. “We have been impressed with the accuracy achieved to date compared with our current manual approach.”

Costa Group is a grower, packer and marketer of berries, mushrooms, glasshouse tomatoes, citrus and avocados. It supplies major Australian supermarkets and independent grocers, and exports to Asia, North America and Europe.

Its new AI model is the result of a Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre collaboration involving The Yield, Costa Group and University Technology Sydney (UTS).

UTS researchers are “embedded” in The Yield’s Sydney office and will continue working to improve the berry yield prediction model.

“This is a great example of how using data and agile research methods, we can get research results out of the lab and into the field faster,” stated Food Agility Chief Scientist, Professor David Lamb

The Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre has also worked with the Sydney Fish Market on an IoT and Blockchain project, as well as with other partners.

The Yield node in a Costa Group berry polytunnel.